With food insecurity at an all-time high across Massachusetts, the Central Square Business Improvement District set out to increase access to fresh, locally grown food for Cambridge residents in the dire times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Introducing: Central Square’s very own and first-ever winter farmers market, scheduled to operate in March and April at Starlight Square and as an extension of Popportunity, two symbiotic initiatives aimed at providing a safe space for neighbors to gather, heal, receive essential services, and begin economic recovery.
The Central Square Winter Farmers Market launched Monday, March 1st and welcomed MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux, Mass Farmer's Markets Executive Director Edith Murnane, and Central Square BID Executive Director Michael Monestime. The market will run every Monday until April 19th and include well-known and long-time Massachusetts farmers, ranchers and fishermen Stillmans Farm, Stillmans Quality Meats, Red’s Best, and Boston Smoked Fish. Joining them from Popportunity is Sherman & Cherie’s Beezy Bees.
In addition to being part of the first-ever winter market in Central Square, these vendors will also be the firsts in Massachusetts to test out the newly developed Winter MarketSheds, modular market stalls designed to set up quickly at winter markets to protect vendors from the cold, and easily disassembled and stored away in the spring when markets transition to the summer season. The Central Square Winter Farmers Market joins a group of rising community resources based in Central Square addressing food insecurity, including non-profit Project Restore Us, the newly-opened Daily Table, and neighborhood collaborations to stock several community fridges.
"There is a tremendous amount of need in the community. We've seen that since the beginning of the pandemic. If you look at any part of our district, there are mutual aid efforts in motion to support residents dealing with food insecurity. Central Square's community centers, restaurants, and small businesses have all stepped up to meet the level of crisis we're facing. Working in collaboration with the Central Square Farmers Market to open a pilot site early is another way the BID can help not only residents but also local farmers and food producers. Starlight Square has proven to be a site where anything is possible. By taking a space for cars and turning it into a place for people, we created a destination in the neighborhood that can respond dynamically to what the community needs. First it was a safe place for the arts and non-profit community to transition outside, then it became a place for economic recovery with the introduction of Popportunity, and now it will integrate a new Farmers Market footprint. We said last March, the recovery from COVID-19 will happen outside. We encourage everyone to bundle up and support the Farmers Market, our Popportunity shops, including Comfort Kitchen, and an amazing season two at Starlight."
-- Michael Monestime, Executive Director, Central Square Business Improvement District
The Central Square Winter Farmers Market is part of a larger Winter Farmers Market Initiative started by Mass Farmers Markets in the fall of 2020. Motivated by the heightened food insecurity rates across Massachusetts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Edith Murnane, Executive Director of Mass Farmers Markets, set out to find a solution to keep farmers markets open as critical food access points for SNAP-eligible individuals and families this winter. In previous years, there were only 40 or so farmers markets open during the winter, compared to 200+ farmers markets during the summer.